In a high-profile attack on growth-killing red tape, President Donald Trump this week ordered that any agency issuing a new rule find two to repeal.
He will likely discover that the only thing harder than getting something done in Washington is getting it undone.
Vast swaths of rules are untouchable because Congress ordered them to be written or the president himself demanded them. Finding rules to repeal is a tedious and time-consuming affair that usually yields tiny savings, mostly in reduced paperwork. Ultimately, rules are passed because they have benefits, from cleaner air to fewer terror attacks, that voters or presidents aren’t willing to forgo.
The first president to tackle the leviathan was Jimmy Carter who proposed a “regulatory budget” to limit the financial burden of new rules. Every president since has tried the same. George W. Bush invited suggestions from the public on rules to repeal. Barack Obama trumpeted two executive orders requiring federal agencies to “look back”